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Smiths Creek Landfill

Aerial view of Smiths Creek Landfill
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Smiths Creek Landfill

Contact

Health-Based Questions

Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHHS)
800-MI-TOXIC (or 800-648-6942)

Environmental Concerns

Submit an Air Quality Complaint

Clean Air Assistance Program
EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov
800-662-9278

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Smiths Creek Landfill (landfill) is located in Kimball Township, St. Clair County. The landfill is currently owned and operated by St. Clair County. Blue Water Renewables owns an electric generating facility located at the landfill that utilizes landfill gas as fuel. Although municipal solid waste landfills like this one provide a necessary service in Michigan, facilities must operate safely, in accordance with regulations, and as a good neighbor to our citizens.

EGLE has conducted several investigations of the landfill. Several violations have been issued to the landfill due to non-compliance with environmental rules and regulations. EGLE staff continues to respond to complaints and concerns filed by residents near the landfill and conduct on-site investigations as well as regular inspections and compliance activities.

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Information

  • Updated February 2024

    Preliminary sampling information – NOTE: This work is still in progress and any conclusions are preliminary as the data collected to date is limited.

    • EGLE has received numerous odor complaints from citizens near the Smiths Creek Landfill. Odor complaints point to odors typical of a landfill, including those related to landfill gas. Odors may cause health effects and impact a person's quality of life. Persistent odors may contribute to stress, which can cause additional health effects. Landfill gas typically contains hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide, created as waste breaks down, can cause odors even at very low levels.
    • In addition to issuing violation notices, we are being responsive to community concerns by conducting a 60-day air sampling campaign to measure for reduced sulfur compounds, including hydrogen sulfide. This sampling aims to provide information that will help determine if air pollutants are at levels of health concern in the community.
    • Air samples are taken using two Cairpol Cairsens air sensors to measure hydrogen sulfide. These sensors read hydrogen sulfide concentrations in the air once per minute. One sampler began on November 30, 2023 (Cairpol 2). The other sensor underwent repairs before it was added on December 20th (Cairpol 1). These were placed in areas off-site near the landfill expected to be the most impacted by the source of the problem. All data is shared with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) for their evaluation.
    • The one-minute readings from the sensors were used to calculate 1-hour and 24-hour average concentrations. These time frames are used so we can evaluate the readings against weather data, like wind speed and direction, and health-related levels called minimal risk levels or MRLs.  Weather data is one tool to identify emission sources. Health-related levels are one tool to ensure public health and the environment are protected. Longer timeframes allow us to look at additional health levels.
    • Based on the air sampling conducted to date, the hydrogen sulfide results do not generally raise concerns of increased risk of negative health effects from short-term exposures. However, on January 24th, weather events including heavy air and snowpack are likely to have created conditions leading to the spike in concentrations at Cairpol 1. Persons in the area may have had experienced short-term impacts.
    • Based on the air sampling conducted to date, the hydrogen sulfide results do not raise concerns of increased risk of negative health effects from intermediate exposures.
    • We will continue to evaluate the data as it is collected and share information with the county and state health departments.
    • Readings on some days showed concentrations where odors were likely to be present.  People have differing sensitivity to odors, so some residents may have been impacted by odors related to hydrogen sulfide.
    • NOTE: We are continuing to sample and will update sampling information every two weeks.
    • September 2023
      • EGLE receives an increased number of citizen complaints concerning landfill operations.
      • Staff from the EGLE's Air Quality and Materials Management Division respond.
      • Complaint investigations are conducted in response.
    • October 2023
    • November 2023
      • On November 7, 2023, a violation notice was issued for not properly operating and maintaining the gas collection system. A response with a plan to return to compliance is due November 28, 2023. Note: Response received November 29, 2023.
      • On November 14, 2023, a violation notice was issued to the landfill for odors and not properly maintaining and operating the gas collection system. A response with a plan to return to compliance is due November 30, 2023. The company has asked for an extension to provide a response. The company must respond by December 7, 2023. Note: Response received December 7, 2023.
    • December 2023
      • On December 19. 2023, an additional violation notice was issued to the landfill for not properly maintaining, operating the gas collection system and for operating the flare without a permit. The violation notice also states that responses to previous violation notice were inadequate. A response with a plan to return to compliance is due January 9, 2024.
    • January 2024
      • Responses to the December 19, 2023, violation notice were received from Blue Water Renewables and the Smiths Creek Landfill on January 8 and January 9, 2024, respectively.

Additional Information

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